Cookies are my weakness. Some of my first memories were of my mom making chocolate chip cookies. The sound of the electric mixer, Toll House chips falling against the metal bowl, licking the beaters, the smell of butter, flour, and sugar baking, and finally warm cookies cooling on the counter—the process has always made me giddy.
I think of all of the cookies I love, have enjoyed, stolen, even a situation at work in high school when a whole platter of cookies were thrown into the trash after a glass lid broke above them; I took three out that appeared fine enough, blew on them for good measure before eating them.
Today I can assure you my desperate cookie days are behind me. In fact, karma seems to be catching up. I made these Russian Tea Cakes, left them to cool on the counter while I went to buy coffee to accompany them. I returned home to find six of thirty cookies left on the countertop. Was this a joke? I stared at the powder-sugared counter in utter confusion and disbelief. “Who the hell ate my cookies?” I yelled, before sensing someone watching me from the other room—Chula, our dog…
Chula loves these cookies. I love these cookies. They are fast to make, their flavor profile can be easily changed, and they go so well with coffee, tea, or hot toddies.
But beware of cookie thieves; they exist.
Russian Tea Cakes
1 cup of butter at room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup powder sugar plus extra for dusting
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Cream butter then add vanilla extract. Gradually incorporate 1/2 cup powdered sugar; mix until it is light and fluffy. Sift the flour and salt onto the dough; mix. Finally add the pecans and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.
Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Gently press them with your fingertips and bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Remove the cookies and roll in powdered sugar while they are still hot. Cool on wire racks and dust cookies again with powdered sugar before serving.
Pistachio with rose water:
Substitute 1 cup of pecans for equal amount of chopped pistachios
Substitute 2 teaspoons of vanilla for equals amount of rose water
Substitute 1 cup of pecan for equal amount of chopped almonds
Add 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla and ½ teaspoon of almond extract